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Russia Slams U.S. for Accusing Syria of Terrorism

MosNews | January 21 2005

Russia has slammed the United States for accusing Syria of having ties to terrorism, criticizing it for harming security in the Middle East with such statements.

“It’s well known that slapping labels on countries and unilaterally describing certain states as part of the ’axis of evil’ has not improved anyone’s security,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko was quoted by Interfax as saying on Friday.

“Syria is one of the key players in the region and resumption of talks with Israel on the Syrian question is important in the context of the Middle East peace process.”

U.S. Secretary of State-designate Condoleezza Rice has warned Syria it faces new sanctions because of its suspected interference in Iraq and ties to terrorism.

Russia, meanwhile, is embroiled in a diplomatic crisis with Israel over intentions to sell anti-aircraft missiles to Syria, Israel’s foe. Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon urged Russian President Vladimir Putin in a Thursday telephone call not to sell arms to Syria because that would strengthen the Lebanese Hizbollah guerrilla group.

Yakovenko’s comments — and Sharon’s telephone call — came just ahead of a visit to Moscow by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad next week.

The United States has tried to put pressure on Russia in the past over its nuclear cooperation with Iran, which Washington says seeks to acquire nuclear weapons.

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